Sunday, February 25, 2007


I went to Bamberg to visit with my grandfather and uncle yesterday. I hadn't seen my grandfather since I graduated high school - he doesn't do planes, and I took summer school every year of college.
It was nice to see him though his sense of "humor" does not mesh with mine at all. He'd make comments and laugh, and I'd just be looking at him like he was insane. I went with another LT that's inprocessing with me and she had me drive since her baby kept her up all night. Driving in Germany is kind of scary - a lot of the roads that would be considered highways in the States are only one lane in either direction so in order to pass cars, you have to drive into oncoming traffic. It's especially bad considering how curvy the roads in Germany are (there were a few instances where I couldn't believe that I was actually in a passing zone).

Anyway, here are some pictures of Bamberg (I didn't have that many to choose from because I've been there so often that I didn't take many pictures, and the ones from inside the church really didn't turn out).

Der Bamberger Reiter - Bamberg Rider

One of Bamberg's most famous monuments - it's inside the Dom (cathedral)

St. Michaelskirche ( a former monastery)
As seen from the Rose Garden of the Neue Residenz (new residence)

View of Little Venice and the crane from the Old Rathaus

(you can see part of the facade on the right)

Briefings, Sexism, Homophobia and Stereotypes

Tomorrow is my last day of inprocessing! Only one more day of boring briefings before I have to go face the reality of being a platoon leader. At least, I should be getting my hands on a training schedule this way so I'll know more about the day to day plans of the unit rather than simply, "we're going to the field on these dates."

For the most part, the briefings were just boring but there were a few that also managed to piss me off - coincidentally, these all took place on Thursday. As part of the family advocacy brief, a couples' therapist spoke to the room and mentioned the difficulty men and women occasionally have communicating with each other. He discussed a scenario, and tried to explain it from the man and the woman's side, but somehow in both cases he managed to paraphrase the wife's comments as "blah, blah, blah." Gee, thanks. Apparently, the problem between men and women is a difference of testosterone and estrogen. Seriously, we're going to reduce this to something as simple hormones? What next, a comment as brilliant as Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus because we are all inherently different. How about talking about the societal construction of gender, and how this affects the way people act? Oh, by the way, the situation: man comes home from work and doesn't put up his boots, woman nags about how she's worked all day to keep the house clean and he can't help out. Wait - so does this mean all Army wives (let's not even get started on the idea that there might be - gasp - Army husbands) are just naturally assumed to be stay at home moms? And even if they aren't, the house is their responsibility?

He also had great advice for us single folk - avoid those gold diggers. All women are just after one thing when it comes to Army guys -a pay check. Or to quote one fellow audience member, "if she can read an LES, stay away." Why is there such a negative view of women? The therapist also had some great tidbits for the women in the military, and went on about avoiding "playas" because they all just have mommy issues - they treat women like crap because their mothers either spoiled them too much or neglected them. I love how we can find a way to blame women no matter what. According to him, these men feel entitled, and might read passing out as consent to sex. The therapist actually made the comment that raping their mothers or sisters as revenge might get through to them - did you seriously just say that, even in jest to make a point?

Luckily, I have a pamphlet so if I ever feel the need for couple's therapy, I can contact this guy. My favorite quote: "Men in the first 10 years of marriage are particularly disrupted in their work productivity by marital conflicts and distress (emphasis as made in the pamphlet)." It's from an article called, "Associations Between Marital Distress and Work Loss in a National Sample" and while I have no clue as to the original article's intent or tone, I love how the pamphlet is completely focused on the men's productivity. Who cares if the wife gets stressed! They also offer a program for better parenting called Boys Town, and the pamphlet concludes with a drawing of the perfect family - a dad, a mom (in a dress of course), and two boys. We don't need girls or daughters in a military family - they'll just become gold diggers after all!

One speaker also shared some stories about her experiences as a family advocate. In one case, after her husband's deployment, a young mother of five (all of which were under 5) stopped taking care of the house - audience response: what nationality was this woman? Yes, obviously, she couldn't be an American because only foreigners are dirty. It was an American (hah!), but I was surprised there wasn't a follow-up question: well then, what ethnicity was she? She also told us about this guy who'd kept the fact that he got paid hidden from his wife for five years. She was foreign and spoke very little English so he told her that the Army provided housing but he didn't actually get paid. Who does that?

I also found out that even though I'm in Germany, I can still enjoy syndicated radio talk shows, specifically Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura on the American station. Great. Good thing I never listened to talk radio to begin with. I'm going to be ordering a lot of DVDs online in the future - I currently have a huge movies and TV show wishlist on Amazon so I can just click and order as I go.

I have to say that I enjoyed the community health nurse a lot, though. She was very open, and entertaining even while discussing STIs. She gave out flavored condoms to the audience for participating and answering questions (she gave me a chocolate one), and even explained how they could be cut open and used in ways that men, too, could taste them (as I said, very open). At one point she asked for a definition of sex, and one guy said, "intercourse between a man and a woman." She quickly put him in his place about sex being able to take place between two men or two women and not just between a man and a woman. She even made sure to point out that there are gays in the military because the policy is don't ask, don't tell, not don't join. Way to put those homophobes in their place.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Alright, so here's the tattoo - it actually looks better in the picture than in person right now since it's in the healing process and starting to scab and peel. Also, it's a mirror image because that was the easiest way for me to get a picture rather than aiming blindly - it's on my right side/hip looking towards the center. I ended up going with the owl rather than a sword as planned because the design looked more unique and worked better for the area. The reason I originally wanted a sword is because it represents intellect in tarot cards but a owl, of course, symbolizes wisdom. Granted, I think wisdom sounds slightly more presumptuous than, say, knowledge or intellect, but it brings across a similar point. Plus, it's also been used to present Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, arts and war so what could be better fitting?
After looking at that picture, I have to say it might not be a bad idea to start tanning. Just kidding - I don't have the patience or the money for a tanning salon. Also, no real desire for melanoma.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Trip

I'm finally done with my three days of travelling. So much fun. Really.

The drive itself wasn't that bad - good weather, little traffic. It was the stopping that was the problem. I had bad luck getting a hotel - I'd wanted to stop around 8ish so when I started looking around, I really couldn't find anything in the first place and kept waiting for signs for good places to stay. I finally checked into a room at 9:20.

The next day, I stopped at a gas station with a drive-through car wash because I wanted my car to actually pass the joint inspection. After purchasing a car wash at the pump, entering the code and waiting for the gate to raise for a minute, I finally went into the actual place to find out that it wasn't working that day. I drove up and down the road to see if there were any other places to take the car (Car Detailing for $25!) before deciding to take my chances. The car passed - my issues with the car pertained to the fact that my orders had me going to the headquarters of my command (I'm assuming that's the same thing as a division since apparently group and brigade are - to quote one instructor, "there's the right way, there's the Army way, and there's the Germany way") but my specific company is actually located in a different area of Germany. It all worked out but I was a little nervous/ambivalent about leaving the country so I was slightly on edge and in a bad mood anyway.

I have also decided that I'm cursed when it comes to bathrooms and airports. Somehow I always pick the stall with the messed up sensor - which, hey, I know how to flush a toilet so that really wouldn't be an issue except that I get the sensors that flush the toilet as soon as you sit down. That happened to me twice on Monday (and once in Dallas on my way to Seattle back in the day so it really appears to be a theme). Honestly though, why do they need sensors on toilets? Were there that many people that couldn't flush? Is it hygiene? It can't be money because those things have to waste more water than a regular toilet with all the sensors misreading any type of movement (you walked by the toilet - must mean you used it).

The flight was overnight which actually has helped with the jet lag so far. It probably would have helped even more if I had slept during the in-flight entertainment but I finally had a chance to watch Volver! I've only mentioned it in, what, two other blog entries? I liked it. It's a good thing I watched it, too - I saw a schedule for the movie theater here, and it's rather depressing. The funny thing is that the crappy movies, like Norbit, The Cleaner and The Messengers are going to be showing this month while apparently people had to wait till now for a chance to see The Good Shepherd. Actually, I'm not sure how the rotation works because some of films had descriptions like premiere or 2nd screening (the movies switch out daily although some show repeatedly in a month ) but still, I have the impression that there's less of a delay for bad movies.

Well, time to go back to the finance office - my travel voucher is going to be so extensive that the clerk went on lunch in the middle of it. When we were filling out finance as a group, the representative came in and said, "8 months TDY enroute? Just sit tight and we'll take care of you later." I can't wait to see how much money I get!

Monday, February 12, 2007

At the Airport

After spending three uneventful weeks at home, I had to head back to Norfolk yesterday. I have two hours before my flight leaves, and then I'll have a lay-over in DC. My sponsor contacted me during my first week home, and it turns out that I'm going to a truck company in Graf that's deploying in the later summer. Basically, it's all my worst fears come true (except that I actually have a few months with my unit before deploying but close enough). My unit's been over before so hopefully they'll be able to impart some wisdom on me, and make me a little less nervous and more technically proficient before we leave Germany.

Turns out that I'm really not cut out for recruiting - "Did you call them?" - "Yes, earlier. I left a message." - "Why don't you try again?" - "Because I feel like if I call anymore often I'll be bugging them." I went on one recruiting event which involved talking to a group of nurses about the Army. Honestly, as ambivalent as I may be about the military, as far as I can tell, being an Army nurse is a sweet deal - they work in a hospital like any normal nurse, but the Army seems to give them more benefits. If I had any leaning towards the math and sciences, nursing definitely would have been the way to go.

I had a chance to see everyone I wanted to while I was home, went to a lecture on campus and even sat in on one of my professor's classes. I also finally figured out what tattoo I wanted (with me leaving the country and actually embarking on my Army career rather than more TRADOC, it seemed like an appropriate time to get it). Unfortunately, I couldn't get an appointment until Friday so it still burns some. Maybe I'll post a picture of it sometime in the near future.

Other than that, I went to the movies but not quite as often as I wanted to (I never made it to Volver). I highly recommend Pan's Labyrinth. I never saw any previews for it, but I hear the trailers focus on the fantasy aspect and are quite misleading. It's a war movie, and the fairy tale aspects are a young girl's way of coping with the violence and upheaval in her life.

Only two more hours to go - I can't believe I'm actually moving to Germany. I don't think they have Starbucks there - there's an evil capitalist empire I'm going to miss.